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Signs written in marker told Save-A-Lot customers in Rock Island and Milan on Thursday morning that the stores had been “permanently closed.”

The store “closed due to no longer being able to operate at an effective level,” according to the signs on the doors at 2627 7th Ave., Rock Island, and at 109 3rd Ave. W., in Milan.

“It’s been a privilege to be a part of this community,” it read.

Store owners did not return calls Thursday, and no one was visible in the Rock Island building.

“It’s sad. It’s really sad. It’s been in this community for quite a long time,” said Rosalinda Jay, who lives near the Rock Island store. She said she worked there for about a year and half before giving her notice about two weeks ago.

“I think I came to the store about two days ago, and I noticed that the shelves were looking really bare, more bare than I had ever seen it,” she said.

From her house Thursday morning, Jay could see cars pulling up to the store, then driving off. “So then I asked my son, and my son looked on Facebook, and he says, ‘Oh, no, Mom, they’re closed. This one and the one in Milan,’ “ Jay said.

She said the closing will have a negative impact on the neighborhood, since many people who live there don’t have easy access to transportation to get to grocery stores farther away.

“It’s going to be really negative because there are a lot of elderly people that walk down here. The whole neighborhood supported this store,” Jay said. “So it’s going to have a really big impact. ... Even people that caught the city bus— they would catch the city bus and get off right there and come and go shopping and get their groceries and stuff like that. And now, there’s nothing. They’ll have to make their way up the hill.”

“It’s going to affect a lot of people. Because this is the only grocery store besides going up the hill that people have access to,” she said. “So people from the west end of Rock Island, and then when stores closed over in Davenport, we got a lot of overflow from Davenport, too, and now there’s no store over there, and there’s no store here.”

Jay said, “The ones that are really going to be affected are going to be the young mothers that are on WIC (the food assistance program for women, infants and children). Because that’s where they get their milk and eggs and cheese and vegetables from. And that’s going to make it really hard for them to try to find someplace else to go. They’ll have to go up the hill.”

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Staff writer Leon Lagerstam also contributed to this report.